The Jambato Toad has been hard-hit by the epidemic spread of the fungus causing the decline and extinction of many amphibians. Though once declared extinct, scientists are working to breed recently discovered populations for conservation. Their future remains uncertain.
The Jambato Toad of Ecuador and Colombia is one of several species of golden toad in the genus Atelopus that are found across southern Central America and northwestern South America. Many of these species are today facing population declines and extinction. While the Jambato Toad was previously abundant along streams in the Andes at elevations ranging from 8,000 to 12,000 feet, there were several decades during which this species was not found despite frequent searches. In fact, it was one of a few dozen species that scientists working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature had officially recognized as extinct. Populations of these and similar toads are believed to have been hard hit by a combination of warming temperatures in the Andes as well as the spread of a fungus that causes disease and death in many amphibian species.
Just last year, scientists working at the Fundación Otonga in Quito, Ecuador, announced that they had finally found a persisting population of this species which had last been seen in the wild in 1988. The future of these frogs, however, remains murky as scientists now work to establish captive breeding populations in hope that one day the Jambato Toad might be reintroduced to even a few of the sites from which it has long vanished.
Associate Curator, Herpetology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Jambato Toad (Atelopus ignescens)
From Ecuador, Feb. 1970